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JBS in Greeley, Sterling Correctional Facility have Colorado's largest known coronavirus outbreaks

jbs meat plant.jpg
Posted at 4:31 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-30 07:58:48-04

DENVER — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released Wednesday updated COVID-19 outbreak data, revealing the state's biggest outbreaks are at the JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley and the Sterling Correctional Facility. Nursing facilities continue to be the worst affected by the virus, with the highest death toll among the facilities on the list.

Food processing facilities

Mass testing has shown the JBS plant is one of Colorado's largest confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks with 245 positive cases, including five deaths.

The massive beef slaughterhouse was shuttered April 10 for two weeks for cleaning and testing. Employees, community groups, and the union representing employees all raised concerns about the decision to reopen the facility in the wake of the outbreak. However, the plant's 6,000 employees returned to work Friday.

COVID-19 is impacting other food processing plants in Colorado. Mountain States Rosen Company, a lamb processing plant in Weld County, Rocky Mountain Natural Meats in Adams County, and Cargill meatpacking facility in Fort Morgan have seen a combined total of at least 86 positive cases, according to the CDPHE data.

MORE |Colorado COVID-19 Outbreaks

Despite the industry topping the list, President Donald Trump, on Tuesday, ordered all meatpacking facilities to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent a food shortage. The president signed an executive order, classifying meat processing as a critical industry under the Defense Production Act.


The CDPHE data shows the state's largest outbreak is at the Sterling Correctional Facility, where 244 inmates and 11 staff members have tested positive for the virus.

The state prison in Sterling has been on lockdown since April 14. Inmates must remain in their cells in quarantine, other than using restrooms and showers. Meals and medications are being delivered to inmates in their units.

Other prison facilities in Colorado showing a large number of positive cases appear to be centered in Weld County, where three jails have a combined total of 90 confirmed and probable cases.

Long-term care facilities

Long-term care facilities have seen the biggest impact from the virus. Around 40% of the state's COVID-19 deaths have come from nursing homes.

Of the nursing facilities on the CDPHE outbreak list, Cherry Creek Nursing Center, located at 14699 E Hampden Ave in Aurora, shows the highest number of fatalities, with 23 deaths confirmed to be or probably linked to COVID-19. Sixty-five residents and 53 staff members at the 218-bed facility have been infected, according to the CDPHE data.

Weld County is also the center of another large outbreak. At least 19 residents of Centennial Healthcare Center in Greeley have died from COVID-19, and 38 residents and 41 staff members have been infected (combining confirmed and probable cases).

Last week, the CDPHE released an amendment to the public health order for long-term care facilities, which require them to submit COVID-19 prevention and response plans by May 1.

Key elements of the public health order include limiting visitors to these types of facilities, at-the-door symptom checks for all employees, and isolation plans for positive cases.